All of the warring voices in the four walls of my skull have agreed to a holiday ceasefire, presumably sitting around a campfire, listening (semi-ironically) to the Psychedelic Furs as I stand quietly behind the starting line of a 350 mile bike race. The race director’s voice drones on as the corral grows fuller and I begin feeling increasingly veal-like. The new-wave kumbaya holding my anxiety at bay is quieted by the voice above, “blah blah blah… can you believe that they paid for this, folks… wah blah wah mud blah rain blah paint stick blah”.Continue reading
When you’ve been living in a place for ages, it’s easy to overlook its charm. Growing up just a couple of hours outside Emporia and spending most of my life in Kansas, I couldn’t fathom why people would travel from far and wide to race on seemingly dull and unchanging roads. But then, amid a grueling nearly 25-hour journey, a realization hit me like a lightning bolt. As I pedaled along the ridge, the undulating emerald hills stretched for miles while ominous thunderclouds loomed above—a quintessential Kansas storm rolling in to welcome me back. There was nothing to do but smile and hope it wasn’t too harsh. Soon, a refreshing 30-minute drizzle came to my rescue, and I found myself grateful for the momentary respite from the heat and electrified by the surrounding beauty.Continue reading
The 2016 Dirty Kanza was probably my favorite ever achievement on a bike. The significance of the event was profound for me on many different levels. To land on the podium was almost inconceivable. Racing against such a talented and fast group of riders was hugely intimidating and also an honor. Overcoming the setbacks of flats, dehydration, heat, and headwinds with a never-say-die mindset was deeply satisfying.
We are only days from the end of 2015 and there are a bunch of highlights from the year that I haven’t had the time to share. I doubt I’ll get to everything on my list and I won’t be able to cover them in much depth, but I’d love to leave them on the journal for the sake of posterity.
The first of these highlights is the Dirty Kanza 200, the two hundred mile gravel (and in our case mud) race through the roads and hills surrounding Emporia, Kansas. There is no way for me to write up this particular event quickly, so if you continue reading please remember to eat often and stay hydrated.
So, apparently, this is how plans/ideations for road trips for amateur bike racing start these days:
<Facebook> “A good friend is running a new event for the first time that is very much in the spirit of what Rodeo is about. 100+++ miles of Oklahoma’s paved roads, flat roads, gravel roads, back roads, hills, oil fields, open pasture land, long horns and tall grass to challenge you. We’ve been invited. Roadeo trip, anyone? https://nativelandsgr.wordpress.com/about/” </Facebook>
The entire road trip logistics to race this event as a team were hashed out on one long stream of collective consciousness comment thread, which atomic mushroom clouded into over 150 comments (now 200), questions, quips, and retorts. I hadn’t road-tripped like this with friends since college, and I was in.